Tanshanomi's Snap Judgments

Buell M2 Cyclone

Wed, August 24th, 2011

Buell M2 Cyclone
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1997–2002 Buell M2 Cyclone
The Sportster-derived engine is nowhere near as advanced as the chassis, but it has an authentic, overtly mechanical feel that makes up for its unhurried coarseness and clunky transmission. It's crude, but fun. Later models have slightly more stick, but not enough that you'd really notice.
Among Buell's last chrome-moly tube frames, the Cyclone's chassis is nonetheless remarkable, with quality components throughout. This is what makes the antiquated character of the engine so obvious. The Cyclone steers, brakes, and handles bumps with admirable aplomb, and better than the engine demands.
My favorite Buell, and perhaps the only one I would dare call 'attractive.' The earlier tube-frame Buells are much better looking than the later spar frames, and the M2 Cyclone has the most well-proportioned bodywork of any of them, although the bodywork's finish is a bit too shiny-cheap and plastic-y. Many disliked the huge, black stock airbox and tossed it for a smaller air cleaner, but I think it adds to the bike's character nicely.
Expect a few more hiccups than later H-D products, but it's a bike you'll never need to throw on the trash heap.
The Cyclone held down the middle ground of the Buell lineup at the time, and as such the ergonomics are a good compromise for all sorts of casual riding. The seat is not great, but you could do medium-distance touring on one. Parts availability is still good (as for engine internals, you'll be able to get anything, forever).
If I was going to get a Buell (though admittedly a somewhat iffy proposition), it would be an M2, without question.
Many people will tell you that Buell's Sportster-derived engine is totally inappropriate for a sportbike, and they'd be right; a Cyclone won't keep up with your Fireblade-riding buddies and will frustrate you if you try. But that's not the point. The M2 is not a sports bike in the traditional, racebike-for-the-street sense. It's the two-wheeled equivalent of a British roadster, trading speed for character and objective stopwatch performance for feel.